Well, why not?
You probably didn’t think I had a picture of Oprah Winfrey. True, this morning I didn’t, but now I do. Just to remind you that absence can be turned into precence if you work on it. Please read this post and stay alert for more .
As I told you, Oprah Winfrey is in Copenhagen for the last push for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Chicago. Here leaving the lunch at the Royal Palace Amalienborg in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Yes, the Danish Queen was there too. In pink.
Go here for more images moving into precence .
Following this blog you will agree with me that it stills needs a more practical approach to phenomenology. We need some tools that can be applied when doing, understanding and analyzing pieces of communication. Being it text or pictures or other.
Aspects of gestalt psychology have been pretty well covered in a number of posts. So have certain practical aspects of semiology. And there are plenty of useful information on both advertising efficiency and human behaviour, for readers that seek that kind information. (To be linked later).
The next series of posts will deal with a more practical approach to phenomenology. This is important since we have stated several times, already, that phenomenology takes up a special position within the barebones universe being both the basic of reflection as well as a particular area of investigation. Normally you refer to phenomenology as the method of phenomenology. The phenomenological method has been randomly covered by a series of posts taking it offset in the big book on phenomenology by late philosopher Herbert Spiegelberg. The big book being his The Phenomenological Movement. This however is by far not enough. Spiegelberg’s steps of phenomenology may be good, but not very practical.
Making the whole area more practical shall be very interesting since a similar effort had never been done before. Correct me if I am wrong here, but in my humble opinion this is the case. I am pretty sure that this effort have never been tried in anything that resembles a communication theory. So, it will be interesting to see what develops in the course of the future posts on barebones.
It is all in the photograph above. I call it Presence and Absence. There may be some presence, but there are certainly more absence. Let’s see, then, if we can get more absence present.
Please take a note that this post is written the day before President Obama arrives for the IOC conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Michelle Obama arrived early yesterday and so did the Spanish King, The Brazilian President, and Oprah Winfrey. And many more celebrities doing a warm up of for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago Tribune calls it The Big Push. Friday all will be settled since the voter’s votes will have been cast. And all the presidents will leave.
What this last information has to do will phenomenology? Well, the facts are certainly there, aren’t they? And the celebrity information around IOC’s meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, is likewise missing from the picture above, right? That is precisely why this information belong to the photograph.
Confused? Just wait till you read the next post on phenomenology. That post will deal with presence and absence and everything will become clear to you .
Have a good morning.
It is long over due, I know.
On occasions I have used the term “hermeneutics“, but so far refrained from explaining what hermeneutics is, and how is it to be understood as a barebones notion. I will do that now.
Some of you may remember the very basic barebones communication diagram (below), that I posted last year. No need to change that, and I will show it here once more. See the word “hermeneutics” on the horizontal cloud in the illustration? Why it is placed there in the same section as phenomenology, and not as a separate vertical cloud similar to semiology, gestalt psychology, et cetera?
The answer to these questions are easy to give: In the barebones universe hermeneutic is not considered as a special region of the communication area, is it considered as a communication fundamental.
Using the esoteric words of philosophy, you could say that hermeneutics here have an existential or even ontological status. Don’t let yourself be scared away from this area by these words. Existential means simply: that which fundamentally comes with human existence, and ontology is simply the science of that area. If you are in for an academic career, you are welcome to obscure this to a lesser and even larger extend (irony). You’ll find indications of such obscurities when you look these words up on Wikipedia
The barebones’ stand on hermeneutics has been phrased very well by David E. Linge in his in Editor’s Introduction to Hans-Georg Gadamer‘s “Philosophical Hermeneutics”, University of California Press, 1976. Here is what he says, and you are welcome to read this as a statement that goes along perfectly with barebones communication.
“The task of philosophical hermeneutics, therefore, is ontological rather then methodological. It seeks to throw light on the fundamental conditions that underlie the phenomenon of understanding in all its modes, scientific and nonscientific alike, and that constitute understanding as an event over which the interpreting subject does not ultimately preside. For philosophical hermeneutics, “the question is not what we do or what we should do, but what happens beyond our willing and doing.” Hans-George Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, University of California Press, 1976, page ix.
To be continued …
Why is hermeneutics important?
Why is hermeneutics important? Why is it even very important? Here as some of the obvious reasons, spelled out:
1) If hermeneutics is fundamental, as we see it on barebones, it attach to every act of communication.
2) If hermeneutics attach to every act of communication, it a good idea to understand a bit of how it works.
3) If you have the idea, that you want to have a bit of control over what and how you are communicating (many people have that idea), you might want to use hermeneutics in an active way.
4) If you have the idea, that you want to understand some of the mechanisms at work at the receivers end of your message, verbal or visual or other, you may want to use hermeneutics in an active way, as well.
5) As advertising is not different from communication, but just a special branch of it, advertising people should take notice as well.
I good way of getting you there is to have a look at a new model of communication, and that will come up on this blog pretty soon. From this post on, there will be more posts on hermeneutics. I am sure that you want to know the basics of the hermeneutic circle, and the hermeneutic spiral.
So you need to stay tuned. Have a good day.
I have been told, off blog, that the barebones communication blog is difficult. So, I am going to deal with that in this post.
Do I agree that this blog is difficult? Yes, in certain respects I do. I takes a portion of work to grasp the content of the terms used on the blog. For instance terms like denotation, connotation, phenomenology, gestalt psychology, and the like. None of these are self explaining, and my task is only to point to the “headlines” of these areas. You need to do the real hard work here by following the links suggested and elaborate and expand on the “headlines”.
But is it well worth the effort, in my humble opinion. That is if you have any intention at all of understanding the basic stuff about how communication works, and how pretty simple tools, in a short time, can make you a better analyst of acts of communication e.g pictures, other images, texts, et cetera, and constructer of such acts – writing a text, taking a picture, composing an add, et cetera.
That said, I will also argue that the understanding of the content of the this blog it not at all difficult once you grab the structure of the blog and the reasons why for this structure. But you have work with it, and do your training as we all do. This is the reason why one of the themes on the blog is simple notebook post: I set the stage and you are asked to act it out.
The blog project is not very different from what you find in other areas of serious work within an area. Within any area, in fact, if you want to do it right or at least try do to it right. Take the surgeon that are to operate on living persons. Could be on your own body. Or mine. I would very much appreciate, thank you, that he had the proper education, and clinical training, before he started swinging his knife on my tissue. It does not really bother me that part of his training has been digging into dead meat of human bodies to acquire that expertise. He knows (or some do at least) beforehand where the heart is, and how it works; he know how my lungs function, and how they work; he are able to distinguish one leg from the other. In other words; I expect him to know his craft and do the right thing when I am laying there flat out on the table.
It is not very different from you you should expect from a communication craftsman: he should know what he is doing.
So here is what my intentions are in this post.
1. I will list some reasons why this blog probably could be considered difficult.
2. I will, once more, explain the structure of the blog, and the reasons why.
3. I will argue why this blog, then, is not at all difficult to follow or to grasp.
4. I will argue that you need to do your homework, PARTICULARLY, if you are in the communication business.
Here we go then:
1. Reasons why this blog probably could be considered difficult.
The reasons are obvious:
1.1 The blog uses uncommon words.
I am sure that many find terms like denotation, connotation, gestalt factors, phenomenology, semiology rather uncommon in a blog on operational communication. The reasons for this is that these terms mostly are know from academic circles and seldom are used for operational purposes. I don’t understand why, but this seems to the way it is.
It is my opinion that “terms terminate”. By this I mean, that if you don’t know the term and are able to use it you will not understand the “problem” that it suggests or describes. I would, for instance, have a hard time explaining, and even look for connotations in a photograph, a text or a speech without knowing the word “connotation”. So, without the “right” words my consciousness and horizon of understanding are limited.
And so are yours.
Terms terminate, but they also expand. That is the crucial point here. More differentiated words, more opportunities for interpretation and understanding. And in communication you are better off the more you have. You simply get new ways of looking at, and grasping things.
1.2 The blog uses scientific resources that are not among the most common.
Yes it does. Some of the resources that this blogs draws on, are simply originally written in such a language that you will find it a nightmare. This particularly goes for the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. So, if you are not really interested, and have a lifetime to invest it is a good thing to stick to clever interpretations. You can uses Husserl for more special research if that it what you aim at.
Besides, did some of his writing are still unpublished, you you will have a hard time knowing what Husserl “really meant”. And there are schools of interpretations, as well. The good thing is that Husserl urges you do do you own phenomenological investigations, and that is really what phenomenology is all about: Doing your own thing bases on a/the phenomenological method, which of course require that you know the basics.
1.3 The blog combines there words and resources in a way that is new and original.
It does not make it easier that barebones communications tries to combine resources from quite different quarters, does it? There is, you might think, a long way from Ogilvy to Barthes, but they both have that in common that they seriously try to master parts of communication. They do even better doing so hand in hand. Ogilvy tries to master the art of advertising, Barthes tries to master the art of photographs.
It just so happens that photographs constitute a large part of most advertising, so Ogilvy benefits from Barthes. And the other way around. Who was it, by the way, who said about creative advertising people, that we have a lot of knowledge about what work and do not work in advertising? That was David Ogilvy many years ago, and his statement still stands. More so than ever. And he continued: creative people must learn to use that knowledge.
Good communication walk on three legs: creativity, experience and science. Pity so often this seems to be forgotten.
1.4 The blog combines resources with themes.
It is important that you distinguish resources from themes. Resources are where the things come from, themes are how they are treated in this blog. Resources are pretty fixed, but themes can change. I can e.g. chose to have resources materialise in more themes later on. For the moment, however, resources and themes are pretty congruent apart from the fact the notebook, and pitstop posts are not connected to any resources in particular.
I realise, that this does not exactly make the intuitive reading and the understanding of the blog more easy. But now you know, and once you have adapted to it, it should not be too burdensome.
1.5 The blog used open ended techniques.
Yes, definitely, it would be nice if every question had a fixed answer, and every challenge had the same solution? (Un)fortunately not so. If you work with the human sciences, or with human issues like communication, you need to get to terms with ambiguity. Therefore, barebones communication, often uses an open ended structure. Questions are asked, issues indicated, but you will not necessarily find an answer to the question, or a closure to the indication.
If you have looking for definite answers, you are probably reading the wrong blog. Bare bones are more than one.
Handling an area with this kind of human uncertainty can pose a severe problem for many. On the other hand, being able to ask the right questions takes you more than half way to a reasonable answer. Think about.
I am sorry about this, but this uncertainty is part of the human predicament.. But, of course, some answers are better than others, but you need to bring the answer yourself. You need to get used to open ended processes. Troublesome, eh? Only make sure, that you join the process coming forward with the best and most reasonable “answers” . Science, experience and brilliant ideas are good pals in this process. Getting you closer to the truth.
Is there any reason, you think, that this blog should not reflect this human predicament?
1.6 The blog uses an indirect language.
There is a gap between how good, efficient advertising work and the way of this blog. Reason why? This blog is not an add and you don’t want to value it on the same principles.
I use a good portion of indirect language, for instance in the heading of this post. Could this have been done otherwise, to promote a quicker understanding of the points in question? Yes, I think it could.
I could definitely, have used a more direct language, but that would have eliminated what for me is one of the more interesting parts of communication: the human predicament (once more), and the excitement of not knowing exactly where you end up when you go out for a walk There is also the teasing part of indirect language, that I enjoy. Sorry, my human predicament. Add to that a general fascination with what you can do with language.
Combine these things, and it definitely does not make thing easier. I admit.
1.7 The unfolding of themes, and resources do not come in a chronological order.
The posts belonging to specific themes are not presented in a chronological order. First of all this a matter of convenience for me writing them. I don’t have to stick to a theme, but can load posts from different themes along the way. Hoping that I can glue posts to a specific theme by tagging them properly. Using this style I am able to “multitask” several themes at the same time.
I am well aware that this process is demanding for the reader, who have to pull in some extra weight to find our what is going on the barebones blog.
And besides this is a blog and not a book. The former is a lot more flexible than the latter. It also gives me the opportunity to go back and correct language as well as to make adjustments to whole posts, or series of posts, which for me is a good thing, as I sometimes post drafts later to be corrected.
The are plenty of places where you can pick up the themes if you want to read theme posts in continuity. Use the tag cloud, or one of the shortcuts to themes that the blog offers. Here is one window that you can use.
1.8 You, as a blog reader, are asked to take part in the unfolding of the blog.
It is, of course, deliberately that I ask the blog reader to do some thinking of their own. Who knows, it might come in handy some day .
Two of the themes are barebones notebook, and barebones pitstops. The notebook themes simply asks the reader to participate in more or less simple exercises bases on one or more blog posts. The pitstops are much more tricky since they simply bring you a quote and you have, as a reader, to elaborate on that on your own. The first one is pretty easy, the latter rather difficult if you are not used to abstract thinking.
Is simply ask you to find your own way. A challenge not unknown from the real world.
You’ll find examples on both notebook exercises, and pistops by hitting the proper tags in the tag cloud. Go for it.
1.9 The blog is thematically unfolding as it goes along.
Yes, this is true, and I am not unaware that this might be an issue of some disturbance too.
From the start I had no clear idea of how this blog was going to develop. Let me rephrase this: maybe I had a more or less clear idea where I wanted to end up with the barebones blog, but not in such a way that I beforehand had a plan for what stones I has to step along the way. I still am not able to map future stepping stones.
Why is this? Well, having a precise agenda for each post would be asking me to complete the book before I ventured on the blog. I could have done that, but given such a task I am quite sure that we would not even have a blog on barebones communication today. And certainly not a book. Working with an open end like this, means that we at least have a barebones communication blog under construction. For what that is worth.
The blog format suits me well. I can do bits and pieces whenever I want to or feel like it. And the order of theme posts could be “random” as long as I string themes together by tagging each post properly. For me this a a grand way of publishing.
So then, I am very exited to see where this blog ends up. Who knows, there might even be a book . Some day.
2.0 The blog uses photographs to illustrate themes, resources and arguments.
At first I had picture in the posts simply because I have pictures. Lots of them. And to escape the monotony of the mere written word, I thoughts I could put them to some use here.
Along the way it ocurred to me that I could use the photographs in a more clever way than as mere illustrations to break the monotony of the text (and the blog visuals). As a picture speaks a thousand words I thought I could use them more intelligently and even cut down on some of the words. So, that us what I tried to do. I see now that this blog could hardly have been done without the pictures. Particularly in the posts that talks about visuals. I hope I succeeded with this.
On the other hand, I know that some people simply don’t have the ability to read pictures. They don’t intuitively see a composition, the don’t see colours or colour casts, and they have basically no idea if a picture is a well composed and precise message, or not. For people that are not good readers of pictures, the use of pictures in this blog might come as an obstacle for understanding.
I am sorry if this is the case for some, but there is really not much I can do about it.
(This post is to be continued … The title may even change along the way . In the mean time please take a good look at the picture below, and try to figure out how it works in terms of barebones themes and/or resources. Elaborate on what the two people really are checking in this picture? Using the barebones toolbox, I would look for connotations in the shot, and gestalt closure. You could also elaborate on how well the shot communicate in terms of One Unified Impression. Just as a starter).
CheckPoint Charlie, Berlin 2006. Copyright Knut Skjærven.
I have to admit that I had no clear idea of this from the beginning.
I have thousands of pictures and I have hundreds of books. So, my idea was initially to use both sources in combination on this blog.I started using pictures, because I thought they would brighten, and break up the blog a bit, and maybe, in some cases, make good illustrations for the verbal points made in the individual posts. Particularly in illustrating some of the gestalt factors the pictures came in handy, since some of them seemed to have been shot for the particular blog post.
Not so. The pictures you find on the blog are in some cases taken many years before a blog on barebones communication came to my mind about a year ago. My favourite post, in this respect, is the one on gestalt direction. Go look it up. The post “Wertheimer would have loved it”. This post, by the way, is one of the posts with the most hits. So, I must have done something right.
As I am the photographer of all the pictures posted, so far, I don’t have to worry about copyrights, since I hold copyrights to all the pictures. It makes life much easier that way, since I am allowed to quote from texts, but I am not allowed to quote from visual material in the same way. I can’t just post somebody else’s pictures.
However, lately, the thought grew on me that maybe my pictures had another role to play, as well. You are probably aware that, for instance, Roland Barthes have written with passion about photography. I am referring to his last book: La Chambre Claire, first published in France in 1980, the year of his untimely death.
I will return to that book in later post, since I fully agree with those stating that this book is one of the most important statements ever made on photography.
But what is more, it constitutes a cross section between semiology and phenomenology (Barthes explicitly refers to Edmund Hussels. Barthes states on page 20 in my copy of the English translation: Camera Lucida, that “In this investigation of Photography, I borrowed something from phenomenology’s project and something from its language”.
Barthes is talking about Edmund Husserl as his inpiration.
There is, however, even a much more important issue at stake here. You know that the phenomenological method includes a “freezing”, a “bracketing” of the natural attitude to be able to describe, and to study it more closely. Maybe you also are aware that one of the key methodological notions within phenomenology is the notion “perspective”.
Question: What is it I do, what is it that every photographer does, when taking or shooting pictures? Answer: Could be phrased this way: I/they/we, as photographers, freeze parts of the world from a certain perspective. That is the very nature of photography.
So, the cross over from photography to phenomenology, is rather obvious to make.
As the blog progressed, it slowly dawned on me, that here is a story that never has been told. I will try to tell it, bit by bit, as the blog unfolds. That was the general idea, anyway.
Think about this idea, and take a look at the picture submitted below: A moment, frozen in time, from a certain perspective. Phenomenological investigation illustrated. Photography on phenomenology. Feel free to re-read the posts on the phenomenological method already posted.
Gassin, France, 2002.
All the best to you as well
For more posts on Barthes on this blog, go here, or use the tag cloud for navigation.
I had a chance to visit Germany last week. I saw a couple of these posters once more. Along the highway, and in the cities. Runter vom Gas.
The picture below is shot in Berlin in March 2008, and it has been stuck in my mind ever since. I have been trying to get away from it. However, last week, was a reminder of a message that needed showing.
Tell me, in terms of denotations and connotations, why is this message, imo, so incredibly strong? Use other barebones tools, as well, to build your argument. I will join in shortly, but right now it is your turn to use the barebones tools to figure out the strenght of this message.
What does “Runter vom Gas” translate? Simply “Down by Gas”. Very down.
For more information on the campaign go here. Or try this commercial to really get in the mood for impressive advertising. Go here for extensive campaign downloads, but please notice the restrictions for use.
More on notebook briefs.
Time for another step into the interesting world of gestalt factors.
This is the fourth factor we are dealing with: The Factor of Direction.
Wertheimer says: ” As Figs. (…) also show we are dealing now with a new principle which we may call The Factor of Direction”.
The figures, that he is referring to are simple figures consisting of a straight line or curve (A & C) hit by one, or more, shorter lines or curves e.g. line/curve B.
Visual Figures: Main and secondary lines.
The two figures above are similar to some of the simplest figures Wertheimer used in his experiments, hereby indicated that some figures can be more complicated than the ones shown. However they all illustrate the same idea about directionality.
The main line structure is along the longer line A/C. He talks about “good continuation”, “inner coherence” and suggests that some linear structures show good gestalt simply “by its own inner necessity”.
The shorter lines, B, in both cases above will tend to have secondary role in perceiving visual figures as these.
Wertheimer talks about the unequivocally of such patterns. They are unambiguous, and have a clear direction that is based on what is perceived as the main line structure of a figure.
This is not only the case when straight lines are involves, but it is also valid in curved lines when the longer curves is perceives more dominant than shorter, tangential curves. It seems to be a general phenomenon at work here, thus a gestalt factor.
When talking about more complex units than those Wertheimer points to, like for instance photographs or pictures, it seems relevant to talk about perceived lines and perceived direction of a second level. Let’s call this second level directions for impressions. So, let me illustrate this with some pictures.
Second Level Direction: Impression of coherency.
The coherent line in this image is, in my opinion, the diagonal line from the left hand low corner – the beach line. The horizontal line, which is the other main line in the image, cannot visually compete with the strength of the beach line. The placement of the woman in the continuation of the beach line gives a relaxed, coherent impression. Her facing the horizontal line helps lock up the line structures in the image.
Second Level Direction: Impression of collision.
The main line in this image is perceived to be the line going vertically from the bottom of the picture to the other end of the tunnel, where the crowd of people are gathered – the tunnel line. The perceived horizontal line, where the three people move, is the secondary line – the crossing line. The inner coherence will be constituted along the tunnel line. As the crossing line is quite strong in thus picture it creates a kind a tension, a conflict in the image. However, as in the former picture, it helps to lock up the picture, that two of the crossing people face the main line and thereby link into that.
The main point with The Factor of Direction is that certain line structures seems to lend themselves to some sort of unambiguity, that ease the perception of them.
Adding more lines, and thereby introducing a more complex visual picture, can stress that ease of perception. Using Wertheimer’s visual figures it is pretty easy to agree on this, but these simple figures rarely exist in our life-world. As seen in the two photographs above, the visual deconstruction of real-life situation will be much more complex and demanding.
Real-life communication, of course, is in terms of complexity closer to the two photographs than to Wertheimer’s clinical experiments. And more demanding. Nothing to do about that, I am afraid .
How to use:
As indicated in the pictures above, you can use the factor of direction in two ways: use it coherently and built on the good continuation, or skip the good continuation to set things, objects, logos, whatever, apart.
Doing the first thing, you can expect perceptions that are less troublesum for the reader/viewer, than if you go for the second. Dependent on what your aim, or for that matter, what your target or target group is, you will pick your choise.
Does it work for other areas of communication than mere visuals? Well, you consider e.g. storytelling where you could have one major theme, and more minor themes. Or music? And other areas?
I would say yes, definitely.
So, let’s move on then.
Coming up is the third gestalt factor (my order): the factor, or law, of closure. Described by Max Wertheimer in the 1920′s and more potent than ever. You’ll see.
If the two first factors: proximity and similarity are need-to-know for communicators, the factor of closure is the holy grail. It’s adds the opportunity of involving your reader. Or viewer. Or whoever.
There are different interpretations of what the meaning of closure, is. Is it a reference to the process of closure, or is it the end result? On this blog closure will refer to both, depending on the context. Leaving out the rest of possible interpretations.
Commenting upon experiments with some very basic visual objects Wertheimer says: “From an inspection of Figs. 20-22 we are led to the discovery of still another principle: The Factor of Closure. If A, B, C, D are given and AB/CD constitute two self-enclosed units, then this arrangement rather then AC/BD will be apprehended”. (A Source Book of Gestalt Psychology, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1974, page 83).
How do I understand this? Well, in two ways:
1) That which is “closed” (self-enclosed units) are more easily, and rapidly understood then that which is not “closed”. A finished story is more easily understood than an open ended one.
2) There is an inherent strive, in perception, towards “closing” of units. If they are not closed from the outset perception will do its work to close them. Gaps missing will be filled in.
Do you find this a bit cryptic. Don’t despair. I am sure that your interpretation of Wertheimer’s wording is as good as mine.
Anyway here comes an example of how visual closure works. That might bring us s bit closer.
What is that you see in this picture? Is it a spread of black and white dots? Do you find closure working for you? Do you see the dog? (I am sorry, that I don’t know who owns the copyright to this picture).
Let’s move this factor one step up. Let’s introduce a distinction between the physical closure and the the mental closure. Does closure work on both levels? I think so. Look at these pictures:
Physical Closure vs Non-Closure:
A pretty easy picture to apprehend to use Wertheimers notion. Not much fuzz and possible deviations here. On the other hand, you may say that this is a bit boring and not that an imaginative picture. I would say that the image has physical closure. (Copenhagen, Denmark 2003).
What happens here? Same lady, but a man added. More like half a man. Some would dismiss this image because it is not physically closed, and blaming the photographer for not being in his right mind. Others might say, that this is a much more interesting image just because physical closure is lacking. Gives you an opportunity to close it yourself. Addresses you in another way then the first image. More demanding. (Copenhagen, Denmark 2003).
Mental Closure vs Non-Closure:
This image has closure, in my opinion. Both physically and mentally. Like the first picture it is self-contained. The young couple (please remark the effect of both proximity and similarity) don’t need anybody else. There are no elements apparently reaching out of the image. You don’t need to fill any gaps. Mental closure is in place. (Paris, France 2003).
As opposed to this image where self-containment is lacking. Puts a bit of a strain on you to close this one. Do you want to close it, or can you live with this kind of open ended solutions? You might say that this photograph lacks mental closure. I do. (London, UK, 2003).
How to use:
How to use the gestalt factor: closure?
Go for closure, or go for non-closure. Depending on your communication objectives.
I use pictures to illustrate, but it could as well be texts. News articles would typically be closed acts while fiction could be non-closed acts (this could be argued). Political statements, some might say, would better be acts with an apparent closure (so that people will understand them rapidly). Poetry can live with non-closure demanding your engagement and phantasy.
What about advertizing? If your objectives are product or consumer information, then keep messages closed. If your objectives are image, then non-closure might do better.
By the way, did you know:
“The need for closure varies across individuals, situations, and cultures. A person with a high need for closure prefers order and predictability and is decisive and close minded. This person also feels discomfort from ambiguity (Hiel & Mervielde 2003). Someone rating low on need for closure will express more ideational fluidity and emit more creative acts (Chirumbolo et al., 2004)”.
For more on this, go here.
Happy Holiday .
Ok then, let’s move on to the next gestalt factor; the factor of similarity.
This one is really easy: things that are similar tends to be grouped together. Not physically grouped, as with proximity, but mentally grouped. They band together.
In the article by Wertheimer already mentioned, he says: ”Thus we are led to the discovery of a second principle – viz. the tendency of like parts to band together – which we may call The Factor of Similarity“.
He states that this factor, as with proximity, is both visual and auditory, it works for sounds as well as for form and colour. I can think of many more areas, but let’s leave it at that for the moment.
What does the word similarity mean. You all have answers to that, but let’s go for the official versions by quoting a dictionary. Just to be on the safe side.
Wikipedia says: “Similarity is some degree of symmetry in either analogy and resemblance between two or more concepts or objects. The notion of similarity rests either on exact or approximate repetitions of patterns in the compared items”.
You might have noticed, that I already touched upon similarity in the post on proximity, where I suggested that the two elderly people not only were sitting close to each other, but also had similar traits. Let me expand on that a bit: They both wear straw hats as protection against the sun, they both sit in the same type of chairs; they both wear casual summer clothing; etcetera. Similar could be says about the younger standing at the right hand side.
I could go on, as I am sure you could. Let’s have a look at one of the pictures once more.
Remember what happened, when I suggested that you substitute the standing man for a standing bottle of Bacarci? Well, you don’t break the proximity. You ungroup the couple, so to speak, because the two objects are no longer similar.
And what happens when substituting both men for bottles of Bacardi? You break the illusion of a quite beach scene, and moves the picture into a surreal world. Right?
You don’t have to agree with me in this interpretation, as long as we can agree that the picture takes on a different set of denotations, as well as connotations. See former post.
If you, in your imagination, substitute the two gentlemen with bottles of Bacardi, other things happens as well. The proximity is still intact, but the original similarity is not. Now we have (in the imagined Bacardi picture) two different sets of similarities. All of a sudden the two women band together. As does the bottles of Bacardi. We have suddenly got one group of people, and one group if Bacardis. This is the factor of similarity working.
I don’t want to linger on this much longer. It’s pretty obvious what happens, and how similarity dismantle proximity, and regroups the content of the picture.
Another shot coming up. What would I have done without them .
The people proximity isn’t that strong in this shot. The two guys are at separate ends of the glass cylinder. Why are they still grouped? Well, for one reason they are both black; they are both looking into the glass cylinder, they both have bended bodies. They are both standing up. There are lots of reasons. I am sure that you can think of some, as well.
So, let’s end it here. This is, after all, a blog, and not a lecture . Let me suggest some areas of use, as with proximity.
Areas of Use:
Lots of I would say. Here are a few ones on the fly.
Combining striking colour and striking mood; combining product form and overall visual form; combining black coffee with black panther; combining Red Label with Red Fire; combining colour content with business image content, combining text structure with visual content structure; combining music with mood, combining woman’s body with sand dunes, combining young child with young tree, combining text with context, combining, combining, combining, combining .. this it getting really boring. You come up with some examples – in any context of communication you can possibly think of.
Or do the opposite: chose dissimilarity, and get striking never-heard-of-effects. As with the Bacardis.
The gestalt factors works both ways: use them straight to group, or use them faked to ungroup.
Do you see the young girl at the far end of the glass cylinder? Do you really? Or do you see a random structure of black dots?
Coming up soon is another gestalt factor; the factor of closure .
All for now. Thanks.